Federal agencies

Omnibus bill provides stable funding to safety agencies for remainder of FY 2018

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Washington — The passage and signing of the Consolidated Appropriations Act (also known as the omnibus bill) on March 23 means stable funding for safety agencies through at least September. Among the highlights: NIOSH avoids a potentially large cut to its budget, the Chemical Safety Board stays open and OSHA’s Susan Harwood Training Grant Program continues.

CSB and the Harwood Grants were slated for the chopping block in President Donald Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget request, issued May 23. NIOSH was in line to receive $200 million, a sizable decrease from its $335.2 million budget for FY 2017.

Instead, NIOSH will receive $335.2 million again for FY 2018, which ends Sept. 30, and CSB – which was budgeted to receive $9.4 million to wind down operation – is getting $11 million.

CSB’s future remains unclear, however. The agency is again facing elimination in President Trump’s FY 2019 budget request, released Feb. 12. CSB has requested $12.1 million, but the administration wants to allot $9 million with the purpose of concluding the agency’s work.

NIOSH, meanwhile, is slated for $200 million again in FY 2019, an elimination of its Education and Research Centers, and a shift to the National Institutes of Health from its current status as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Congress, which has the final say on all of this, will have two new appropriations chairs: Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) is among the incumbents not seeking re-election, and Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) will retire April 1.

OSHA is getting $552.8 million in FY 2018, with $10.5 million going to the Susan Harwood Training Grant Program, including $4.5 million to its Training Capacity Building Developmental grants. Congress also set aside at least $3.5 million for the Voluntary Protection Programs.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration will receive $373.8 million in FY 2018. The administration requested $375.1 million.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is getting a large increase in its budget, to $844.8 million from $644.2 million, with $100 million going to “a highly automated vehicle research and development program.” The administration requested $657.8 million.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act includes an exemption on electronic logging devices for livestock and insect transporters. FMCSA granted a 90-day exemption to a wider group – transporters of “agricultural commodities” – on Nov. 20.

It is unknown what Raymond Martinez, confirmed as FMCSA leader on Feb. 13, will do with the oft-challenged ELD mandate. During his nomination hearing on Oct. 31, Martinez told the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee that, “Everything that we approach this with is through that lens of safety. It would be my intention, if confirmed, to first and foremost abide by the law, but also to have an open-door policy and work with all the impacted stakeholders.”

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